Author: ba921

Be a MAN

During my reading of the Nemesis I found myself mostly interested by the relationship between Bucky and his Grandfather and how it transformed Bucky into the character that he is. I wonder how much of Bucky’s character is actually his, considering he is living during the war times. Thinking on these I remembered the war recruitment posters that was present during those times.

Poor Bucky, robbed of the opportunity to go and fight the war found himself trying to protect the children of the town from maybe be a even deadlier opponent.But how much of Bucky’s character is created by the posters he sees all around, the announcements he is subject to every waking moment. Maybe our stalwart Bucky wouldn’t have been a example good American boy without the constant effects of his surroundings and his grandfather.

Here is another read about the manliness and protection.

Cheers from Latvia,

Sweet Dreams

  The fever hid in blood; Grandpa hid in dreams.                                                                           The fever loved its blood; Grandpa loved his dream.

Yan Lianke’s Dream of Ding Village is a novel about the struggles of Ding Village in the years of facing an AIDS epidemic. It introduces us to a very different side of AIDS and AIDS infected societies; different, that is, from other representations of AIDS we’ve encountered in our previous readings. The novel takes place in Ding Village in China, a direct allegory to the Henan province where, between 1991 and 1995, the plasma economy campaign coerced individuals to sell their blood. Yan Lianke presents insight on these years through the story of Ding Village, more precisely, through the ideas and longings of its people.

In one of the scenes in Dream of the Ding Village, the Grandpa calls the people to a musical performance with a promise of a cure in their minds, leading them to forget the grim reality of the disease. At this point we remembered the theatre scene in Camus’ The Plague, which presents us a similar scenario: people going to the theatre to sidestep the horrible reality of

the disease. In both novels, however, the scenes come to a close with the performer slipping into afterlife, shaking the audience and waking them up from their somewhat naive dreams. The audience in The Plague are forced to face the disease even in a place they thought they could forget it and the people of the Ding Village learn that the promise of the cure was in fact a lie


As the name of the novel, Dream of Ding Village, suggests, dreams are an all encompassing theme in the novel. This idea initially sprung into our minds when we first read  the short emphatic sentence the novel presents. At 6first, they read like arbitrary forms of emphasis presented at the end of certain passages. However, as we progressed through the novel, we found out that they pointed to the overarching themes of dreams, prophecy, and imagery. These sentences often read like the Grandpa’s optimistic dreams: vivid, feverish, and fragmented, with various allusions to nature. For example, in one of his dreams, Grandpa finds himself in a peaceful version of the village in the time of spring. In this dream, Grandpa’s imagination presents the village with hard working, happy, and smiling people.

“Ding Village was alive with flowers, blanketing the earth with colour and filling the sky with their perfume. The villagers waded through this sea of flower, some digging in the ground with spades and shovels, others carrying loads on their shoulders and backs.” (91)

However, it is apparent, that Grandpa lives in a dramatically different reality, where:

“The villagers became indolent and indifferent to everyday life. With death camped on their doorsteps, no one could be bothered to till the fields or do any planting.” (14)

Spring does in fact eventually arrive to Ding Village, but not with the hope and prosperity the dream alludes to. Instead, the spring only brings about more pain, with the destruction of the Uncle’s family and the rising deaths in the village.

“Ruin had come early this year, with the spring.” (169)

The various dream sequences present throughout the novel almost govern the progression of Ding Village’s story. In fact, literal dreaming isn’t the only instance where the notion of dreams plays a role in the novel. It can be said that the strive for prosperity and the villagers’ dream to escape poverty and enter a world of wealth and happiness also embody the theme of dreaming.

One of the most powerful literary devices the Lianke makes use of in the novel is strong imagery pertaining to blood. Throughout the novel, the author uses the color red to stimulate our visual perception of Ding Village and the plasma economy campaign, which consequently helps emphasize the presence and importance that blood and AIDS suddenly had in Ding Village. For instance, the “ruin” that comes with arrival of spring flowers is metaphorically described as “blooms of red and white”, and the red “stood out bold and strong against a blur of pale yellow and smudges of green” (169). Similarly, in the musician’s death scene, “The schoolyard filled with the stench of blood” (57). The emphasis of blood and redness only strengthens the role that blood plays in the novel. And, to relate this notion with the overall theme of dreams, the Grandpa’s dreams and the short emphatic sentence presented in the novel also include a lot of blood imagery.

Even clothing, sunrises, marriage certificates, and of course, blood, are vividly depicted through the bold and bright descriptions of the color red. Just as the author’s writing is positively dripping with bright red blood, the lives of the people of Ding village are just as heavily tainted with it.

One of the last points we wanted to discuss before we ended is the role of the narrator. In the opening pages of the novel the we learn that the book is being narrated by the 12 year old dead son. Even though knowing this helped us relate to the book, we failed to connect the language used in the book to a 12 year old. Furthermore, the omnipotence of the narrator made us question the line between a Godly narrator and the 12 year old ghost.

Some other questions to consider for our class discussion involve the role of family and search for prosperity. The institution of family is very important in Chinese culture, which is emphasized in the novel. Does the definition, image of family change in the year of epidemics? Does it change once a family member got sick and had to leave his home? The downfall of the Ding Village begins after their visit to Cai province, a temporary artificial utopia in the peoples eyes. How big a role did the peoples desire for wealth played in their downfall?

Sweet Dreams! (Oh, and doesn’t this sound like the hymn of the novel?),

– Batu, Sarah and Victoria

Wings of Worry

I always enjoyed listening to religious stories while growing up. Maybe because they carried such an important role in the structuring of the world we live in. When I was introduced to Bethesda in Angels in America and listened to the stories in class I decided to learn more about her hoping it would aid us with wrapping up the text.

(Courtesy of

Interestingly enough the majority of the sources that I found did not point to the biblical representation of the angle, but rather to the ironclad monument in New York. The very place where our play comes to an end. My search directed me to the official website of Central Park.

“The angel herself carries a lily in one hand while the other remains outstretched, poised in the action of delivering a blessing on the water pouring from around her feet and into the basin at the bottom of the fountain. This is to commemorate the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which supplied New York City with fresh water.”

In the excerpt that was explaining the stance of the angel something caught my attention: The lily in her hand. When I looked into other sources describing the statue I kept being reintroduced to the lily figure which pushed my interest a bit further. Maybe lilies themselves have a biblical meaning?

I checked some biblical sources looking into the meaning of lily in the bible. What I found was Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

According to people who know a lot more on of the subject than I do, this passage talks about the worries of the people and how worrying is futile and something condemned by god.

With all these new found information I want to loop back to our discussing during the last minutes of the class. As I have said in class I believe that the play ends in an optimistic tone. Maybe in Angels in America Bethesda plays this role of radiating calmness. I believe this definitely can be seen in the characters that are present in the closing scene. They are ready to leave their worries behind and move to the millennium.

Ghosts: A Fantasy Fiction Horror Story

I always have been interested in the idea of the supernatural and those that lingered behind. While reading Ibsen the vocabulary the characters decided to use in more than one occasion directed my mind to the supernatural. Oswald while talking about his affliction; “Like a living death! Mother, can you imagine anything more horrible?” (Ibsen 137) and Engstrand when he is discussing his motives “Isn’t it right and proper for a man to try and raise the fallen?”(Ibsen 131) It is apparent that this play does not contain any supernatural elements but the specific vocabulary and the name of the play invited me to give it another read, this time as if the ghosts were real!

Before diving into Ghosts again I researched 19th century Norway and the understanding of ghosts in that era. The prominence of the “ghost pictures”  that recently popped up added to the social hype that surrounded the supernatural. People believed that ghosts were spirits that failed to transition into the afterlife and were bound to the mortal world. Sometimes with the will of another and sometimes by an object. The manifestations of these usually present themselves as a reenaction of a certain scene from the now fading life of the ghost.

(Taken from Megan Garber’s article “When Cameras Took Pictures of Ghosts“)

Reading the play once again with my “I See Dead People” glasses on made me realize that Mrs.Alving could actually have been a summoner of ghosts! A specific ghost, Mr.Alving in this case. Throughout the play Mrs.Alving tries to keep the situation of Mr.Alving a secret. Never sharing the “debauched” reality with anyone, bearing all the burden by herself. Sadly, her adamant attempts at trying to remove him from her life makes Mr.Alving present in every aspect of her life. The fact that Oswald smokes his father’s pipe can also add to the strength of the ghosts presenting an actual object that bounds him to mortal world. The manifestations of Mr.Alving shows himself as the terrible affliction Oswald has and more importantly in the looping events that happen between Regine and Oswald. 

Even though this approach is nothing more than a farfetched supernatural reading, I think it helps us have another look at the way Mrs.Alving interacts with the world. She definitely is haunted by the memory of Mr.Alving and the burden of keeping the reality of her marriage hidden from the world.

It’s not that they actually live on in us; they are simply lodged there, and we cannot get rid of them. I’ve only to pick up a newspaper and I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. Over the whole country there must be ghosts, as numerous as the sands of the sea. And here we are, all of us, abysmally afraid of the light. (Ibsen 126)

Mrs.Alving might be reading between the lines, placing the ghosts there herself just to convince herself that what she has been through is shared with other people hidden from plain sight. Ghosts might not be real for other characters but it is definitely real for Mrs.Alving and regardless of Oswald’s belief in ghosts he is haunted by one.

Maybe in order to be safe they just need to salt and burn the pipe.